Assaultive behavior can take many forms. All forms of abusive behavior are ways in which one human being is trying to control or have power over another. These behaviors can include but are not limited to:
Emotional or psychological abuse:
Put-downs or constant criticism; mocking her; not speaking to her for days at a time; making partner watch children or pets be abused and not allowing partner to intervene.
Denying the partner access to, or the opportunity to keep friends, social contacts, outside interests; jealousy; making family contact difficult.
Threats to hurt or kill children, pets, friends; destruction of property; controlling partner's talk; making partner account for every minute, every action; threats to hurt anyone who helps her; threats to prove partner is an unfit mother; threats of suicide; controlling with fear.
Denying partner access to money of her own or not allowing her the opportunity to improve her earning capacity; forcing partner to hand over every penny she earns; forcing partner to account for every cent.
Pushing, shoving, slapping, punching, kicking, breaking bones, knifing, shooting or use of other weapons, locking out of one's home, abandoning in an unsafe place, murder.
Forced unwanted sex; demanding that partner wear more (or less) provocative clothing; forced sex with objects, friends, animals; insisting that partner act out pornographic fantasies; denial of partner's sexuality.
Attacking or ridiculing her belief system and/or culture; attempting to stop her from practicing or participating in spiritual practices; destroying spiritual objects or scriptures.
Myths and Realities
Myth: Most abusers are poor or unemployed.
Reality: Less than 15% of abusers are unemployed during the battering relationship. Therefore, there is no link between unemployment and violent behaviour.
Myth: When the abuser is sorry for what he/she has done, the violence will stop.
Reality: The violence escalates in frequency and severity over time.
Myth: When a women is pregnant, the batterer would not likely abuse her.
Reality: Women are at a higher risk to be abused during pregnancy.
Myth: Children are not affected unless they are beaten.
Reality: Children in abusive homes are at high risk for physical child abuse and almost all are psychologically abused by living in the violent atmosphere.
The typical child abuse professional's condemnation of the mother for not protecting her children from abuse, may be unfair in that it does not take into account that she may be without the ability to control the violence against herself or her children.
Children who come from violent homes are at a great risk of becoming abusers of victims in adulthood. Children of abused persons often become neglected and abused themselves.
Myth: Abuse only happens within a married relationship.
Reality: Abuse occurs in relationships of all kinds (and to all ages), in married and unmarried relationships, casual dating relationships, gay, lesbian and straight relationships and may continue after the intimate relationship has ended (divorce, break up, separation).
Myth: Divorce will end the abuse.
Reality: An abused partner is likely to be at greater risk for injury or homicide after leaving the relationship. Once the abused partner leaves, the abusive partner experiences heightened feelings of powerlessness. The abusive partner will do anything to get the power back. Abusive partners will often stalk and harass the abused partner at home, work, etc.
Myth: The abused person causes or deserves the abuse.
Reality: The assumption that victims provoke the violence justifies the abusive behaviour of the abuser. The fact is, that no one whether man or woman, has the legal right to abuse another person and it is never justified.
Myth: If the victim wasn't hit, it's not abuse.
Reality: Domestic abuse is not only categorized as physical violence. Abused persons often experience emotional, psychological and financial abuse. Some may never experience physical violence. These other types of abuse may be just as damaging, if not more so in the long-term, than physical violence.
- Breaking the Pattern: Understanding Wife Abuse, Office for the Prevention of Family Violence, Alberta, 1991.
- The Battered Women Syndrome, 2nd Edition, Lenore E. A. Walker, 2000.
- Stop the cycle of violence, Gary Kirby & Anne McFaul, Men's Transition Centre, Calgary, AB.